Businesses with $10B in N.J. public contracts gave $9M to political campaigns last year

Posted Apr 9, 2019

Private companies doing business with the state of New Jersey and local governments donated $9 million last year to political organizations and political candidates, according to a new report by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Roughly 1,900 companies held public contracts worth $9.8 billion in 2018, ELEC said. Only firms with at least $50,000 in public contracts have to report their political contributions.

They weren’t as generous in 2018 as they were in 2017, when the governor’s race topped the ballot. But candidates for federal office and federal political action committees drew $763,000 in contributions from contractors, though the majority of that money went to a committee funding candidates outside of the Garden State, according to ELEC’s analysis.

Hartz Mountain Industries Inc, made a $500,000 donation to Majority Forward, a 501(c)(4) so-called dark money group that does not have to report its donors. Majority Forward was the most prolific dark money group last year, spending $40 million to help Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Majority Forward “was not active in New Jersey, where Sen. Bob Menendez fought off a challenge by Republican Bob Hugin,” ELEC said.

The next-largest recipient of contractor contributions was General Majority PAC, a group that donates to Democratic candidates in New Jersey. It took in $159,000. Freeholder candidates in Middlesex and Gloucester counties each took in more than $100,000 from public contractors.

With its $500,000 donation to Majority Forward and another nearly $29,000 to New Jersey candidates and committees, Hartz Mountain Industries, a commercial real estate company, was the top donor among contractors, the report said.

It’s followed by engineering firms:

Remington & Vernick Engineers, which has $40 million in public contracts and made $515,400 in political contributions;

T&M Associates, which has $34 million in public contracts and donated $396,400;

Richard A. Alaimo Business Entities, which held $10 million in public contracts and donated $339,600;

Pennoni Associates Inc., which had $13 million in public contracts and donated $301,245;

CME Associates which held $40 million in contracts and donated $298,890.

The report also ranked firms raking in the most money from public contracts, with Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ (Horizon Healthcare of NJ Inc., Horizon Insurance Co., Horizon Casualty Services Inc., and Horizon Healthcare Dental Inc.) in the lead. It reported $5.4 billion in public contracts.

Behind Horizon was AMERIGROUP New Jersey, Inc. and its $1.4 billion in public contracts. At $223 million, South State, Inc. came in third. And SB One Bank was next with $132 million.

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